Speed and ease are the order of the day for Marion when it comes to food. Working full time as an IT specialist, she doesn’t have time to hang around. Pasta is her main staple food because it’s quick, but she also has a penchant for Lemon Drizzle cake!
Ready-meals also fill up the week with takeaways peppered in between. When she does have time to cook, she loves cooking a traditional roast dinner and her roast potatoes are always cooked in goose fat. 49 year old Marion weighs in at nearly 17 stone and finds it really difficult to shed the pounds. She said,
‘My weight at the moment is the highest it’s ever been and I don’t like it.’
She has some big family occasions on the horizon and wants to slim down for those. She said,
‘I’m 50 in October and then my eldest daughter, Deborah, is getting married next year so I would really, mother of the bride, I’d like to be able to have a nice outfit.’
She says her biggest downfall with her diet would be snacking. When she’s in the office, they have a trolley that comes round rammed with goodies which are hard to resist. And top of her favourite snack list is a lardy, Lemon Drizzle cake. She says,
‘It’s sweet, it’s sugary and it makes you feel good doesn’t it? I mean anything like that makes you feel good.’
Marion really looks forward to Friday nights because that’s her Chinese Takeaway night. She says,
‘We’ll phone up and it’ll be delivered and there’ll be sesame prawn toasts, mini spring rolls, seaweed and then the Szechuan chicken. Maybe sweet and sour chicken balls and some egg fried rice. It’s just tasty. It’s got lots of varied flavours.’
But Marion’s half portion of her Friday night feast weighs in at a huge 2063 calories! No problem though, Gizzi’s speciality is Asian food so, she should be able to help Marion change her ways. She said,
‘You know what? We all think we’re too busy to cook a proper meal. But, I believe with a bit of planning and forethought you can make a really delicious meal in the same time that it takes to go and pick up a takeaway.’
Gizzi Meets Marion
Gizzi arrived at Marion’s house to see what she could do to help Marion beat the bulge. Gizzi said,
‘I just wanna get a bit of an idea about where you are in your head about your body.’
‘I don’t like my body at all at the moment so, I’m at a low with my body.’
Gizzi asked Marion how much weight she would like to lose and Marion said about five stone. Gizzi said that was a nice solid number and went on to ask her what foods she could not live without. Marion said,
‘Chinese, we like to have a Chinese Takeaway. Or there’s a meal that we found recently that is a ready meal that’s paella which has got chorizo and chicken and things like that in it and that’s lovely. If I’ve got time I’ll do a home-cooked meal but, otherwise it’ll be something out of the fridge that I can just shove in the oven.’
Gizzi said she could see a bit of a theme going on with the Chinese Takeaways and the ready meals and asked Marion to explain herself! Marion said,
‘Yeah well now you say it like that perhaps it’s beginning to dawn on me that I might be slightly lazy in the kitchen. Erm, and that I need to make more of an effort!’
What’s In Your Fridge
All the ready meals are costing Marion pounds and that’s not just on the scales! So it was time for Gizzi to see the evidence for herself. The first place she went to was the fridge and the first thing she saw was the paella. Gizzi said,
‘We’ve got chicken that is covered in powder of God knows what. The way that it’s processed is not what you want to be putting in your body. You want to be putting fresh, delicious ingredients in there that’s actually gonna have some nutritional value and be good for you. This is not proper paella! It makes me cross!’ laughing.
But it’s not just the fact that it’s a ready-made paella that is the issue. The next ready meal was a curry with a calorific content of 870 calories! Not to mention the 38 grams of fat that’s in it!
At the bottom of the fridge was a packet of biscuits that claimed to be ‘light’. Gizzi said,
‘Don’t be fooled into thinking the light ones are better for you. It’s going to be lighter for a reason. It’s gonna be pumped full of something to fill it out. Because it’s got light on it people are kidded into thinking they’re good for you.’
Gizzi said later,
‘I just want to show her what really good, home-cooked food tastes like. It’s so important to get this girl into the kitchen and have her cooking!’
Marion’s favourite cake is a Lemon Drizzle sponge so the first thing Gizzi needed to do was come up with an alternative for it. She told Marion she was going to give her a new style cake.
While she was making the cake mix, Gizzi got out her old favourite – the fruit sugar (fructose) to use in the cake. She asked Marion if she had ever heard of it and Marion said she hadn’t. Gizzi called it a ‘super-product’. Because it’s one and a half times sweeter than normal sugar, you don’t need to use as much of it. She also used rice flour because it’s a little bit better on your body than normal flour. She said that a lot of women, when they eat wheat, find it bloats them and that this helps to combat that.
For the drizzle on the top of the cake, Gizzi used the fruit sugar and lemon juice again. Then she got out her surprise ingredient – orange flower water. She got Marion to sniff it and Marion seemed pleased with the scent. Gizzi said that it is quite strong so you need to use it sparingly.
Marion’s shop-bought Lemon Drizzle cake has a huge 285 calories per portion.
Gizzi’s Moroccan Lemon Sponge has a much lighter 187 calories per portion. Almost 100 calories less.
Gizzi told Marion to dig in to the finished article. Marion was very pleased and said it was lovely. She said it was really lemony. So, a thumbs up from Marion for Gizzi’s first recipe!
Move It . . . Just a Little Bit
Marion was a healthy 9½ stone in her 20’s but, her weight has continued to climb over the years. She said,
‘My weight affects me much more than I’ll admit to most people really. It can make me feel really fed up which is a bad thing cos then I’ll just go and eat cos I’m fed up. It’s a vicious circle.’ Lots of us can empathise with that Marion, you’re not alone! She continued,
‘Going out shopping now is a nightmare. I hate trying to find things to wear cos I don’t think I look good in anything.’
Marion’s daughter, Deborah is worried too. She said,
‘I know my mum doesn’t feel very good about her weight and I know she’d like to do something about it. Generally just for her self-esteem and to make herself feel better.’
But Marion’s lifestyle is not helping in her bid to shift some pounds. She passed her driving test five years ago and now tends to drive everywhere. She said she used to walk a lot but now, she just jumps in the car instead.
We all know that being a healthy weight doesn’t just depend on how much you eat but, also, how much you move around too. We just seem to forget it sometimes! Marion’s car might have taken the place of her walks but, it could still help her to get fit and slim. If she washes the car instead of taking it to the car wash, she could give her body an all over work out and a weekly wash could burn 258 calories and, if she cleaned her husband’s car too, she could double it! Marion said,
‘In future, I’m gong to try and clean my car regularly, make it part of my routine cos it’s good exercise – much more energetic than you think it would be.’
The next dish for Gizzi to work her magic on was the pre-packed Paella and garlic bread. Marion said,
‘It’s quite tomatoey and the chorizo is full of flavour. Then you get the prawns which are tasty. There is a lot of flavour in there. It’s quite tasty, spicy as well.’
‘I’ve got a really good trick that means that she can make something she loves like this but she can do it in the oven which is a way that she feels comfortable cooking. She’s just bunging something in the oven. So, I think she’s going to be really happy with what I’ve got to show her.’ She went on to say to Marion,
‘Your paella, or your excuse for a paella as far as I’m concerned. I just wanna show you and prove to you how cooking from scratch just saves you calories.’
She said she wasn’t doing a paella as such but she was going to do a baked seafood and chorizo risotto. Marion looked very interested in that and when Gizzi reached for the white wine while she was cooking, Marion seemed even more interested!
While the food was being cooked, Marion said the smells were amazing. Gizzi asked if Marion’s paella smelt like that when it came out of the oven. Marion said no and laughed.
Marion’s Chorizo and Prawn Paella and Garlic Bread comes in at a massive 720 calories per portion.
Gizzi’s home-made Baked Seafood and Chorizo Risotto comes in at just 416 calories per portion. So Marion still gets her Mediterranean flavours but at a whopping 300 calories less!
The dish got another thumbs up from Marion when she tried it. She said it was much better than the paella she had been eating!
The last downfall dish for Gizzi to ‘get her teeth into’ is Marion’s Friday night treat. Her Chinese takeaway. Gizzi said,
‘So her Chinese meal, the stuff that she loves is deep fried, it’s sticky so it’s really sugary, really sweet. It’s a real tricky one for me to be able to do something with because these are things you’re just not really going to be able to do low fat or low calorie. It’s just not an option. I think I want to show her something completely different. A different way of eating, something a bit more authentic and see how she deals with that.’
Gizzi started by asking Marion if she could imagine how much fat was in her Friday night takeaway. Marion said she thought it would be around 20 grams. Gizzi indicated higher with her hand Marion said that maybe it was 30 grams. Gizzi kept indicating higher so Marion went to 40 grams. Then Gizzi said,
‘Okay, I’m gonna have to show you.’ And brought over a dish covered in a tea towel. She revealed a load of mint choc chip ice cream – two litres of the stuff in fact! Marion’s Chinese takeaway has the same amount of fat as two litres of ice cream – 83 grams and 2063 calories! Marion said,
‘Oh crikey!’ (Maybe if it wasn’t daytime TV her words would’ve have been a bit stronger?)
Gizzi told Marion that she was going to try and change the way Marion looked at Chinese food and was going to show her how to make Dim Sum. Delicate, steamed, bite-sized parcels full of flavour.
Gizzi had decided to make two different fillings to give Marion the range of flavours that she likes in her Chinese food. She was doing a seafood Dim Sum and a pork and prawn Dim Sum. Oooooh sounds interesting! Once she had made the fillings, Gizzi told Marion,
‘Filling these things is a whole world of fun!’
And so they got on with filling the dumpling cases. Gizzi used dumpling cases for the pork and prawn filling and for the seafood one she used wonton wrappers. The pork and prawn ones looked just like miniature Cornish pasties!
Served with some Pak Choi, steamed with garlic and some dipping sauce, the whole dish looked amazing! And, when Marion tasted it all she said,
‘Oooh that is really nice! I mean I have to say, it’s much tastier than what I have at home!’
Marion’s Mammoth Chinese Takeaway waddles in at 83 grams of fat per portion.
Gizzi’s Delicate but Tasty Dim Sum with Chinese Vegetables and Dipping Sauce pirouettes in at just 7 grams of fat per portion! 11 times less fat!
‘So when we met this morning, you were like the Convenience Queen, do you think that things might have changed now?’
‘Yeah definitely. I will go off and I will definitely buy more fresh ingredients and try cooking stuff myself and experimenting more rather than just putting something in the oven.’
Gizzi then told Marion she had something that was going to make her new-found cooking techniques easier. She gave her a bamboo steamer. Gizzi said it was like a proper Asian bamboo steamer which is used on top of a wok. Marion was really pleased with it.
If all Marion does is swap her dishes for Gizzi’s new recipes and keeps up the car washing, she could lose three stone in a year, just in time for her daughter’s wedding! Now that is how you cook yourself thin!
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